Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Day 16 - Bermuda to Ireland

Weather: It's been overcast for days now with the occasional peak of sun. Last night, the barometer finally started climbing, tentatively, and the waves were slightly subsiding around 9pm - by 9am this morning conditions are almost "fine", but that is a momentary reprieve as we can already see the next system headed our way... Still, its nice to have a little calm around here however short lived.  The good news with all this wind is that our batteries are all topped up; I guess not using the autopilot helps too.

[Kyle] The waves yesterday were really horrible, very large,  a couple even broke completely over the boat. In spite of the fact of a few hard hits, the boat just slipped sideways and showed no tendency to flip. [Maryanne] Often a particularly large wave would approach and the person on watch would shout down "hold on", but that nasty looking wave would then just gently lift and lower the boat without the slightest knock. It seemed impossible to predict which waves would impact us the most.

General Comments: In the crazy motion yesterday I got up in the middle of my off watch to use the bathroom, and somehow (while crossing from one hull to the other) managed to fall badly and hard into the shelf by the door - grazing my leg and badly bruising it on a fire extinguisher spout. It looks impressive enough for Kyle to feel very sorry for me this morning, and I can hardly sit on that side - it's going to make for a very uncomfortable watch for a few days..

Despite my initial fear, I managed fine on my night watch, and by the 2nd night of rough weather had stopped imagining each dark shadow in the water was a shark waiting for dinner. Crossing the Atlantic on a sail boat was my one item, by bucket list item, that I was perhaps the least likely to achieve - thanks to Kyle I've (almost) done that now. I'm glad, but I can't say I would not prefer a 757 generally.

Amazingly, in all that chaos, we had 3 separate visits from a new (to this passage) species of dolphin yesterday; these were especially playful, jumping out of the water and surfing in the waves all around us. [Kyle] During all these big waves and crazed seas, the dolphins would show up surfing down faces that were 10-15' high. We could see whole pods of them tracing down the wave front at the same angle a surfer would use. Once they'd reach the bows, they would use the crest to help launch them from the water and over to the other bow, where they would make a quick turn and zigzag back and forth in the bow wave before heading off for another round. We ourselves were surfing between 9-12kt at times, so there was plenty of bow wave for them to play with - at least someone was having fun.

With one reason and another (mostly procrastinating) we've not even attempted fishing, but once we are through these storm systems I think it is time; the fridge is getting emptied out so there is space now.

Food: We finished the last of the big batch of chili yesterday (with cous cous), I was really hungry and ready for food.

Progress: Yesterday we made 137nm, So far on this trip we have traveled (through the water) 1825 nm, and have 983 nm (straight line) to go.

GEMINI OWNERS:  Kyle and I believe that the damage to the autopilot motor was not necessarily caused by lots of use, but by a point of strong resistance as the wheel is turned - this point coincides with the point the steering lines become taught and we are now also trying to turn the (lifted) drive leg.  It takes quite a bit of "welly" even when hand steering to get over this resistance.  We are not sure why this is happening: Have the lines shrunk?  Has a groove been warn causing the drive leg to drop further than normal?  Either way, this has to be resolved before we put in a new autopilot motor.  I suggest other owners look out for that; a stitch in time...... Kyle says he's pretty sure a groove has been worn on the metal/metal contact where the drive leg falls to one side. He says (but it not yet sharing) he has a simple solution and will share it once he's installed it (proved it) on Footprint.


NautiG said...

I'm a little surprised that you have 3 gps units and two sextants, but only one autopilot aboard. Especially since you, and most cruisers depend on it so much. And of course, there is no autopilot store in the middle of the ocean to purchase a new one.

I wouldn't be surprised if your steering resistance problem is a broken tooth in the gear mechanism attached to the wheel. My gemini is a lot older than yours, but I think the basic mechanism (and the manufacturer) is the same. When I had an initial problem with my steering last year, it manifested itself as some resistance in the wheel at certain points in its rotation. It got worse and worse as more and more teeth broke off the gears.

But anyway, I'm just being an armchair sailor. I'm jealous of your adventure, but crossing the atlantic is not on my bucket list.

I'm wishing for calmer seas and some good fishing for you soon. I'll crack open a beer and toast you guys when you arrive safe in Ireland!

Gemini Catamaran Split Decision

Mommy Dearest said...

Maryanne, I hope you heal quickly from that nasty bruise and contusion. I'm sorry for the difficulties you both now face and just hope you will fight the inevitable fatigue. If I was a praying person, which of course I am not, I'd be praying for calm seas, sunshine and all the dolphins to entertain you. This isn't on very many people's bucket list--you two are fairly unique in that. My thoughts are with you every inch of the way. Love

kate said...

maryanne, i'm so sorry you took a fall and have an ugly bruise - but at least you have something to show for it, after all (kidding!). no, really, i hope it's on the mend and that you're less sore now. LOVE reading your posts! you and kyle have such a way with words and make me feel i'm right there - even when you use sailing terminology i don't know and even when i most certainly don't want to be there :) of course, you know how jealous i am about the dolphins...sigh... i look forward to hearing of your arrival so i will have an excuse to break out the bubbly and toast to your hard-won and Very Impressive accomplishment! Cheers! (slightly in advance)